By Patricia Boh
There is no joke when it comes to cancer. The search for the cure is an unanimous effort. We would love to find a cure for cancer. Until then, cancer prevention vaccinations sound like a godsend. But what exactly are anti-cancers? Common HPV vaccination Gardasil is not exactly what we may have been led to believe.
In her lecture “Marketing the HPV Vaccine: Lessons for Consumers and Physicians” Sheila M. Rothman, Ph.D., discussed the relationship between professional medical associations and the pharmaceutical industry.
The lecture on Tuesday specifically addressed pharmaceutical company Merck’s aggressive marketing strategy for Gardasil, a vaccine for the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Gardasil protects against two high-risk HPV types, 16 and 18, of which are responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancer, as well as two lower-risk types.
The FDA approved Gardasil in June 2006 as a vaccine against HPV. It was ambiguously marketed as an anti-cancer vaccine.
Rothman cited Beth Herskovits’s article, “Gardasil Campaign Taps Public Fear of Cancer,” explaining why this marketing strategy was so successful. Herskovits wrote, “[The strategy] banked on the public’s fear of the ‘C’ word,” which caused normally low-risk patients to get vaccinated.